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October 1977 

The A.M.E. Church, built 1885 

Nicodemus Centennial: 1877-1977 

Nicodemus, the last all black community in 
Kansas, celebrated its 100th birthday the 24-31 of 
July. The celebration, conceived in 1887, com- 
memorates the emancipation of black people 
from slavery and the creation of Nicodemus as a 

Former residents, relatives and friends came 
by the hundreds from different parts of the coun- 
try to participate in this annual affair. Cars and 
mobile homes with license plates from California, 
New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio 
crowded the streets and park areas. 

Times were joyous for everyone. The children 
had plenty of room to run and play. A ferris wheel 
and pony ride in the middle of town helped to 
limit their mischief. Only on occassion did you 
find one chasing a stray chicken or exploring the 
darkness of an old abandoned building. 

The older generation, while enjoying its fill of 
chicken, ribs and beer, lounged around— old friends 
reminiscing of days past and talking politics. 

At the day's end, a dance, with live music in 
Township Hall, was the center of attraction. 
Erected in 1939, Township Hall is the largest 

structure in Nicodemus. It has a seating capacity 
of 350 persons. 

People young and old congregated in and 
outside the building. Some danced while others 
made rounds conversing with friends and 

A parade was held Saturday at noon and 
everyone converged to the main street. It con- 
sisted of several covered wagons pulled by teams 
of fancy groomed mules; an array of horses with 
flag carrying riders; an antique fire truck and 
Daniel Boone who startled the crowd with bursts 
of gun powder from his musket and pistol. 

The celebration ended Sunday with religious 
services from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with spiritual 
entertainment provided by a gospel choir from 
Mount Carmel Baptist Church in Topeka. 

Also attracted to the weekend's festivities 
were news reporters from state and local 
newspapers and television stations. With a grant 
from the federal government, New York University 
hired free-lance reporters, cameramen and sound 
crews to document the entire event. 

Historical Background 

It was in June of 1877 when the first wave 
of black homesteaders reached a treeless, non- 
inhabited dusty plain area of western Kansas. 

These 30 black settlers, most of whom were 
originally from Kentucky, were seeking a dream of 
freedom— a better way of life— from the cruel and 
harsh realities of the segregated South. 

They came with the visions of hope and 
prosperity implanted in their minds by Benjamin 
"Pop" Singleton, one of the principal leaders of 
the black migration to Kansas, and W.R. Hill, a 
white land agent from Graham County, Kansas. 

It is said that the name Nicodemus comes 
from an African slave who bought his freedom af- 
ter coming to America. 

In September of 1877, a charter was issued 
and the township of Nicodemus became official. 

Nicodemus peaked in population to over 600 
in 1879. This was due primarily from the exodus of 
300 more blacks from Lexington and Georgetown, 

The years ahead were by no means easy. 
Hope, determiniation and help from the Pot- 
tawatomie Indians were the main elements of sur- 
vival for these people the first winter. 

Terrible droughts, blizzards, hot winds and 
the breakdown in plans for a railroad line forced 
many to move on to better lands as far away as 
Colorado. The population soon dropped and by 
the turn of the century (1905), only 261 persons 

Land ownership posed as another major ob- 
stacle for these black pioneers. They were in no 
position to compete with the white land owners 
who controlled over 370,000 acres of the county's 
farmland. At the turn of the century ownership of 
land in Graham County by blacks was ap- 
proximately 50,000 acres. 

At its height, Nicodemus had a post office 
and school, three churches, three grocery stores, 
two drug stores, two newspapers, a bank and 

Today, with a population of 54, Nicodemus is 
making plans toward reconstruction. A federally 
funded housing project is nearing completion. It 
will house low-income and elderly families. The 
community has built a new church and some of 
those who had left because of an unstable 
economy, speak of returning for retirement. 

Nicodemus is the last remaining town in Kan- 
sas that was established by blacks. It is also 
noted as the home of some distinguished and 
widely acclaimed personalities. These include 
football great, Gale Sayers; E.P. McCabe, Kansas 
state auditor for two terms and founder of 
Langston, an all black town in Oklahoma; W.L. 
Sayers, lawyer, and Denver County attorney; 
district Judge Alexander in Denver; and Kansas 
State University Dean of Minority Affairs, Very! 

Switzer, who recently was voted into the Big 8 
Football Hall of Fame. All these originated or lived 
in Nicodemus. 

The United States Department of the Interior 
designated Nicodemus as a historical landmark 
on January 7, 1976. 

By Anthony J. Seals 

HIM City residents and visiting kids participate in Nicodemus 
Centennial parade 

The Golns home, built in 1880s 



Bilingualism: Promise for Tomorrow. This film, 
purchased jointly by the Department of 
Curriculum and Instruction and the Minorities 
Resource/Research Center, successfully 
dramatizes the importance of an educational 
system which is sensitive to the needs of non- 
English speaking children. Techniques of 
dramatization followed by authoritative statements 
clearly illustrate the basic need for bilingual 
education in this country. Perhaps the strength of 
the film lies in the well acted scenario in which 
Consuelo eagerly anticipates her first day of 
school. This eagerness is rapidly replaced by 
disappointment and confusion since Consuelo, 
who is Spanish and doesn't know any English, is 
placed in a completely English speaking en- 
vironment. Confusion ends when the bilingual 
teacher becomes aware of the situation and 
places Consuelo in a bilingual class. The sub- 
sequent comments by educators and legislators 
concerned with bilingual education becomes in- 
creasingly vital and important in light of the 
preceding drama. Due to its introductory nature, 
the film can provide an excellent orientation for all 
students studying to become elementary 
educators and administrators. Also students of 
sociology, history, social work, psychology and 
other fields in education would benefit from ex- 
posure to Bilingualism: Promise for Tomorrow. 16 
mm., 29 min., Color. 


Let's Celebrate Ethnicity. The Hon. Julian Bond 
discusses Black problems of the last hundred 
years with particular focus on the historical events 
of the 60s and the unique problems of the 70s. 


Code Name "Zorro": The Murder of Martin Luther 
King, Jr. by Mark Lane and Dick Gregory. The 
authors examine the death of the civil rights 
leader and challenge the belief that James Earl 
Ray acted solely in the murder. 

Mexico and the Hispanic Southwest in American 
Literature by Cecil Robinson. A chronological 
study beginning with the Criollo in Mexico and 
ending with Chicano literature. 
One Hundred Million Acres by Kirke Kickingbird 
and Karen Ducheneaux. Presents a detailed study 
of the continued struggle of American Indians in 
attempting to retain their land. 


El Mundo. A bilingual newspaper with coverage of 
U.S. and Mexican news. 

Mexican American Sun. A bilingual newspaper 
from Houston, Texas. 

The Minorities Resource and Research Center Newsletter is a bi- 
monthly publication. This is the first issue of the 1977-78 school year. 
Antonia Quintana Pigno, Director, The Minorities Resource and 
Research Center. Farrell Library, Kansas State University. 
532-6516 Ext. 51. 
Anthony J. Seals, Editor 
Dr. Robert D. Bontrager, Editorial Consultant 



Farrell Library 
Kansas State University 
Manhattan, Kansas 66506 


Conferences Movies 

Oct. 22— Statewide ME/CHa Con- 


Sept.-Oct.— Nicodemus, Kansas. Minority 
Resource/Research Center, Farrell 

Sept. 26-Oct. 7— Native American Display. 
K-State Union. 


Oct. 22— Luis Tony Baez, bilingual 
educator, Statewide ME/CHA Con- 
Nov. 10— Juan Rodriguez, editor of "Canta 
Abierta" and literary critic* Sponsored by 

Nov. 10— Gary Soto, poet, recipient of the 
United States Award of the International 
Poetry Forum. Sponsored by MEChA. 

Nov. 17— Leslie Marmon Silko, author of 
Ceremony, Kansas State Native 
American Art Series, K-State Union 212, 
7:30 p.m. 


Nov. 6-12— Homecoming Week festivities. 
Sponsored by Black Student Union.* 

Nov. 6-12— "I heard the owl call my name." 

During Homecoming Week. Sponsored by 
Native American Indian Student Body.* 

Leslie Silko, Native American author. 

'Watch Collegian for further information